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Connectivity forms an important pillar of India’s Act East Policy, says Secy Riva Das

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MEA Secretary (East) addressed a Webinar today on
MEA Secretary (East) addressed a Webinar 
By  —  Shyamal Sinha

The ‘Act East Policy’, announced in November 2014, is the upgrade of the “Look East Policy” which was promulgated in 1992. It aims at promoting economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop a strategic relationship with countries in the Indo-Pacific region with a proactive and pragmatic approach and thereby improving the economic development of the North Eastern Region (NER) which is a gateway to the South-East Asia Region.

The policy has been continuously evolving since the early 1990s and involves intensive and continuous engagement with South-East Asian countries in the field of connectivity, trade, culture, defence and people-to-people-contact at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.

Connectivity forms an important pillar of India’s Act East Policy and its doctrine of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), which form the building blocks for India’s Indo-Pacific Vision, said Riva Ganguly Das, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Secretary Das made the remarks while addressing the inaugural session of a webinar today on “Connectivity Cooperation for a Free, Open and Inclusive Indo-Pacific”.

“At home, India has taken several initiatives to improve physical and digital connectivity. Bharatmala Pariyojana is a new umbrella program for the highways sector that envisages building more than 80,000 kilometres of roads with an investment of around USD 107 billion,” Das said.

Noting the importance of Sagarmala projects, Riva said, “Sagarmala aims at Port Connectivity Enhancement, Port-linked Industrialization, Coastal Community Development and giving impetus to Coastal Shipping. Multi-Modal Logistics Parks shall act as hubs for freight movement enabling freight aggregation, distribution and multi-modal transportation.”

Secretary Das said India has devoted more resources and assigned greater priority to build connectivity in our immediate neighbourhood.

“Since 2005-06, India has extended Lines of Credit worth nearly USD 31 billion to more than 64 countries. Our Act East Policy is at the centre of our connectivity orientation and a fulcrum of our broader approach to the Indo-Pacific. Our efforts are focused on connecting our North-East with the dynamic economies of South East Asia, and enhancing connectivity within the North East itself,” Das said.

“On multilateral/regional front as a member of mechanisms such as the ASEAN, BIMSTEC, Mekong Ganga Cooperation, India is also undertaking various regional connectivity initiatives. We are currently discussing a Coastal Shipping Agreement and Motor Vehicle Agreement in the BIMSTEC format and also in the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) group,” she added.

Talking about Prime Minister Modi’s IPOI initiative, Das said, “Our efforts to build connectivity can only succeed in synergistic partnership with other countries sharing the same purpose and objectives. And this synergistic partnership was the vision behind Prime Minister Modi’s announcement of the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) in 2019 as an initiative for the countries in the region and beyond to collaborate for security and growth of the region.”

“Seeking the synergy between India’s “Act East” policy and Japan’s “Partnership for Quality Infrastructure”, the two countries have agreed to develop and strengthen reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructures that augment connectivity within India, and between India and other countries in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Das further informed that Japan has undertaken a number of connectivity initiatives in India.

“The Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail, the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC) are all mega projects on the anvil. Japan is also partnering in various connectivity projects in Northeast India including the 20 kilometres long four-lane bridge between Dhubri in Assam and Phulbari in Meghalaya,” she said.

“Given Japan’s expertise in the development of quality infrastructure we believe that Japan’s lead on the Connectivity Pillar of IPOI will give a boost to connectivity in the Region and contribute to unlocking the potential for an equitable, positive and forward-looking change in the region contributing to Security and Growth of the Indo-Pacific.”

Source  – (ANI)